Among all of the worldwide categories of collecting, comic books are relatively new. At one time, only kids were interested in reading them for entertainment. In June 1938, Superman, the first superhero appeared in Action Comics #1, most kids were attracted to the man dressed in blue and red holding up and crashing a car above his head. Suddenly, a run of other types of superheroes had most kids paying a dime to buy one. If they had a dollar, they could have bought ten books with zero tax. However, kids read them up to a certain age and their mothers generally threw them away, which is a shame because they would have been valuable.
So, can comic books still be lucrative investments? Absolutely. This is why so many serious collectors wish they had time machines, so they could go back to the past to buy those good oldies. They could imagine getting their hands on Action Comics #1, or Detective Comics #27(the first appearance of Batman) and selling them for millions of dollars today. However, collectors must put fantasy aside and look to more recent and possibly less expensive prospects.
What kind (genre) of comic is it? For this article, I refer to the most popular superheroes. Although they are usually worth more than other genres that include: Cowboy; Romance; Famous Cartoon characters like Disney, Warner Brothers; War; Comedy and others.
Period: Comic books belong to different “ages”: “Platinum Age”(Printed on or before 1938); “Golden Age” (1938-1955); “Silver Age (1956-1969); “Bronze Age” (1970-1981); “Copper Age” (1981-1991).
Is the book “DC” or “Marvel”? Some better known DC superheroes include Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern. Marvel Comics began in 1939 with Captain America, Human Torch and the Submariner. Before 1961, Marvel Comics were originally named “Timely Comics”. Some titles became popular, such as: “Tales to Astonish”; “Amazing Fantasy”; “Tales of Suspense”. These titles introduced some of the famous characters that movies widely feature today: Tales to Astonish 27 introduced Antman; Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced the world to Spiderman; Tales of Suspense #39 featured the first appearance of Ironman. Other well-known comics brought groups of superheroes: Fantastic Four #1 (1961); The Avengers #1 (1963), The Xmen #1 (1963).
Edition Numbers: The lower the edition number, the more the book will be worth. As you know from the last paragraph, many heroes’ first appearance didn’t originate in issues #1. Superman originated in Action Comics #1, but, a year later he got his own comic book – Superman #1(1939). Also, Batman got his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, but soon got his own comic with, the first appearance of Robin – Batman’s sidekick in Batman #1(1940). Wonder Woman’s first appearance happened in Sensational Comics #1, which later became “Wonder Woman”.
Original price: Comic books have gradually increased their newspaper prices. The lower the original selling price, the older they are and in most cases worth more: $.10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 75 (from 1938-1988). Today, the lowest priced comic books cost around $3.99-$4.99.
Condition: If your book either has tears, a partially detached spine, or missing pages – it will be worth significantly less. They can be restored, but repairing them costs more money and it will sell for less. The more pristine the condition, the more it will be worth, of course. All books should be placed in Mylar sleeves with cardboard backings. The ultimate protection for comic books would be to get them hermetically sealed in a hard plastic display case, which is provided by “CGC”, or the “Certified Guarantee Company”. CGC is one of the only organizations that can truly give peace to the collector that the book has been graded properly and can almost never be damaged.
Recommended: Buy the “Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide” which comes out every year.